West Virginia’s Legislature Chose Big Tobacco Over West Virginians
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is disappointed that lawmakers chose Big Tobacco over the health of West Virginians in the state budget.
Washington, D,C. – New data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) finds more than 3 million youth report current use (past 30 days) of any tobacco product in 2022. E-cigarettes and cigars remain the most popular tobacco products. Given these products are commonly sold with kid-friendly flavors, these findings demonstrate the importance of eliminating the sale of all flavored tobacco products. Further, the survey finds significant disparities in tobacco use among youth – non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native students had the highest percentage of any tobacco product use while non-Hispanic Black students reported the highest percentage of combustible tobacco product use (5.7%). Other groups with higher tobacco usage rates were those reporting grades in school of mostly F’s (27.2%); those reporting severe symptoms of psychological distress (18.3%); those who identified as transgender (16.6%) or lesbian, gay or bisexual (16%); and those with low family affluence (12.5%).
The following is a statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):
“With tobacco being the number one cause of cancer death, it is incredibly disheartening that we’re seeing such high rates of tobacco use in young people. According to the survey, 2.55 million middle and high schoolers are using e-cigarettes and one million use combustible tobacco products. These numbers draw a clear picture of just how serious a threat all tobacco products are to our young people. It’s also important to note the two most used products among youth surveyed, e-cigarettes and cigars, are often sold in kid-friendly flavors.
“The tobacco industry has long targeted kids, Black Americans, American Indian and Alaskan Natives, LGBTQ+ individuals and those with limited incomes. The heightened rate of tobacco use among these students is evidence of that predatory marketing, especially their use of flavors to attract kids. We must take swift and comprehensive action to prevent young people from a lifetime of addiction to these deadly products and end the tobacco industry’s targeted marketing.
“The FDA must see these data as a call to action to immediately finalize its proposed rules to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars and deny marketing orders for any new flavored tobacco product. Flavors are key tools the industry uses to target youth and young adults into a lifetime of addiction. ACS CAN is also calling on state governments to enact proven tobacco control policies including comprehensive statewide smoke-free laws, regular and significant tobacco tax increases and adequate funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs – young people’s lives depend on it.”